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Examiner
  • Sound, light help fend off attackers, women told

  • Bob and Jill Leiker, T.A.K.E. Foundation instructors, told about 140 participants Sunday that “he” – a potential perpetrator or “scumbag,” as Bob refers to the bad guys – doesn’t like light and sound and that he doesn’t have much time when it comes to a planned attack on a young girl or woman.

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  • Lauren Holtcamp learned Sunday that acting crazily could potentially save her life one day.
    “Crazy is good,” says Lauren, 12, of Independence, smiling in regard to the top lesson she took away from The Ali Kemp Educational Foundation defense workshop at the Independence Events Center. Along with her mother, Jenni Holtcamp, Lauren attended the class with two of her volleyball teammates and their mothers.
    Bob and Jill Leiker, T.A.K.E. Foundation instructors, told about 140 participants Sunday that “he” – a potential perpetrator or “scumbag,” as Bob refers to the bad guys – doesn’t like light and sound and that he doesn’t have much time when it comes to a planned attack on a young girl or woman.
    Roger Kemp of Johnson County, Kan., started T.A.K.E., which takes its name from the first letters of the foundation, after his daughter, Ali, was murdered at a swimming pool in the summer of 2002. Junior Service League helped bring the classes to Independence for a second year, and the suggested donation price of $20 went to support the foundation.
    T.A.K.E.’s goal, Bob and Jill added, isn’t to change who women are but to change how they think. Strength in numbers, they said, is the top rule in self-defense, and in a close second place is the fact that sound is a woman’s friend in preventing or stopping an attack.
    The attendees, starting as young as 12, learned and practiced defense moves on four key target areas (eyes, nose, throat and groin), joining 50,000 other female participants across the United States who’ve learned the same in similar classes since 2004. These resources, Jill said, all go back to one simple question: “What would you do?”
    “I believe every woman should know how to defend herself,” Jill said. “Often, we take CPR so we can learn how to save someone else’s life. We’re here to understand that we have the power within us to survive an attack if it happens to us.”
    Junior Service League member Catherine Franssens and her daughter, MacKenna, attended last year’s T.A.K.E. class at William Chrisman High School and encouraged the Holtcamps, as well as mom-and-daughter Cindy and Tara Pritchard, to attend this year.
    “There are a lot of techniques and tools that I took away from it last year. It’s so important for the young girls to learn this early,” Catherine Franssens said. “I’ve told MacKenna she’s going to do this every school year.”
    Prevention and preparation are key in understanding attacks on women, as well as realizing that these incidents don’t just happen “to someone else,” Jill and Bob said. They used the ABC’s of self-defense – awareness, boundary setting and combat skills – throughout the two-hour class.
    Page 2 of 2 - The class began with “Describe the Guy.” Jill asked class members to name characteristics of her husband, who stood near the front while Roger Kemp gave an introduction to T.A.K.E. While women provided similar responses on what Bob was wearing, the answers on height, weight and hair color varied.
    That exercise, Jill said, illustrates the importance of women taking notice of their surroundings at all time, especially since perpetrators often stalk their victims six to 12 times before making an actual attack and know their victims’ habits and rituals, such as when they are likely to go to the grocery store.
    “You have to think like a criminal,” said Bob, a former employee with Northwest Kansas Community Corrections, adding that women immediately should lock their doors after getting into their vehicles.
    Among the statistics provided, Jenni Holtcamp said the one she found most interesting is that up to 80 percent of attackers will run away if their victims yell and make enough noise.
    “I think that’s really powerful,” she said. “I think we’re afraid to look stupid and yell if we’re not sure if someone’s an attacker or not, but I felt like that would give women enough confidence to act crazy.”
    The Leikers also encouraged women to think about the message they send every day when they leave their homes, especially with decorations and information displayed on rearview mirrors or dashboards in their vehicles.
    Class participants often ask Jill and Bob whether they should carry a gun, knife or pepper spray as a safety precaution. That depends on personal beliefs, they said, but if a woman chooses to carry a weapon, she needs to make sure she is trained properly and knows how to use it.
    The best “weapons” in fighting off an attack, Jill and Bob said, are two items that most women carry with themselves in their purses: keys and ink pens. Also, women should share their daily agendas with their loved ones so that someone knows where they are at every point in the day, adding that Ali’s killer had only 15 minutes alone with her from the time of the attack until she died.
    “Communication,” Jill said, “is the key to safety.”
    The 1960s mentality and way of life is gone, Bob said, and parents and children alike should take power and control of their safety into their own hands. One of the biggest dangers is that people often think scenarios like Roger Kemp’s are limited to the nightly news broadcasts and will happen to someone else, Jill and Bob repeated throughout the class.
    “My friend Roger does not have a daughter anymore,” Bob said. “It does not get any more real than that.”
     
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